Sep 22, 2011, 11:10 PM EST
In what the NHL calls a “stupid and ignorant” display of racism, at least one fan threw a banana at black Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds during a shootout attempt tonight. Simmonds still managed to score on his attempt, although the Flyers ended up losing that preseason game to the Detroit Red Wings in front of a neutral-site crowd in London, Ontario.
It’s possible that this wasn’t the only time a fan attempted to throw a banana at Simmonds during the game, either. Brian Floyd passes along a fan’s note that someone tried to hit Simmonds with one late in the third period when he scored a 3-3 goal to send the contest to overtime, but that attempt fell short.
Sam Carchidi caught up with Simmonds following the game, who confirmed that it happened but said he didn’t want to make a big deal about it. Here’s a little more from Simmonds on what must have been a strange moment.
“I don’t know if it had anything to do with the fact I’m black,” the Toronto native said. “I certainly hope not. When you’re black, you kind of expect (racist) things. You learn to deal with it.”
Simmonds acknowledged the banana rattled him, and his only thought was to get off a shot — which went in for the Flyers’ only score in the shootout.
“It shocked me and knew I had to keep going and get a shot off,” he said. “It was certainly unusual.”
Simmonds deserves credit for shaking it off in such a professional way, but the fan (or fans) should be ashamed for that revolting act. To add an extra level of sadness to an already awful situation, Simmonds is a Scarborough, Ontario native.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time hockey fans have thrown bananas at a black hockey player. Former Carolina Hurricanes goalie Kevin Weekes dealt with the racial epithet during a 2002 series against the Montreal Canadiens.
As far as exchanges between opponents, it’s impossible to know how many slurs fly around during trash talking sessions, although there was at least once incident in which the matter became public. Georges Laraque accused Sean Avery of calling him a “monkey” in 2005, a claim that Avery denied.
Naturally, hockey isn’t the only sport in which fans interact with black players in such a way. (Soccer fans have a reputation of doing so, for example.) That doesn’t make it any less disturbing, especially since it’s far from uncommon to see black players in prominent roles now. Groundbreaking players such as Willie O’Ree and Grant Fuhr have made way for an impressive wave of stars, from Jarome Iginla to Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien.
Obviously, such a ghastly display of racism is discouraging – it’s 2011, after all – but hopefully this will just be an ugly, isolated incident.
Update (10:15 am ET): NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released the following statement regarding the incident.
“We have millions of great fans who show tremendous respect for our
players and for the game. The obviously stupid and ignorant action by one
individual is in no way representative of our fans or the people of London,
Jan 27, 2015, 6:30 PM EST
Tampa has won both meetings between the two clubs this season.
Jan 27, 2015, 5:41 PM EST
7:30 p.m. ET, from PNC Arena, on NBCSN.
Jan 27, 2015, 5:06 PM EST
“There’s a potential even to bring him to Arizona for at least a cup of coffee at the end of the year.”
Jan 27, 2015, 4:26 PM EST
For the old barn in Anaheim.
Jan 27, 2015, 3:33 PM EST
He’ll play on the top line with John Tavares and Josh Bailey against the Rangers.
Jan 27, 2015, 3:11 PM EST
Kick off six straight games at Rogers Arena tonight versus Anaheim.
Goalie nods: Greiss starts for Pens, which has nothing to do with Fleury getting lit up at the All-Star Game
Jan 27, 2015, 2:27 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
Jan 27, 2015, 2:20 PM EST
“We know what the standings look like. That’s no secret. But we can’t make up all those points this week.”
Jan 27, 2015, 1:38 PM EST
We already knew he tried to use Seattle for the same purpose.
Jan 27, 2015, 1:23 PM EST
And so ends one of the most storied goaltending careers in NHL history.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:56 PM EST
Bill Peters sounds fed up.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:35 PM EST
Defending champs are just 20-15-12 after 47 games.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:28 PM EST
After failing to find a trade partner for the 28-year-old.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:17 PM EST
Your move, Los Angeles.
Jan 27, 2015, 11:47 AM EST
“He wants to build for the long term and he understands that there is some suffering involved.”
Jan 27, 2015, 11:43 AM EST
Bob Murray wants a defenseman, according to pretty much everyone.
Jan 27, 2015, 11:12 AM EST
The worst of the storm was saved for New England.
Jan 27, 2015, 10:48 AM EST
Get back into the swing of things.
Jan 27, 2015, 10:48 AM EST
“I’m still a little ways away. Hopefully I keep making the right strides.”
Jan 27, 2015, 9:41 AM EST
Update: Moving him might not be such a bad thing, really.
- Martin Brodeur to retire, become Blues asst. GM (Updated) 35
- Mike Richards clears waivers 31
- Game on: Islanders-Rangers to be played despite storm 15
- Flyers’ Rinaldo suspended eight games for his hit on Letang 55
- Isles’ rise to be tested as they lose Okposo for 6-8 weeks 16
- L.A. Sorry? Kings waive Mike Richards 123
- Bobrovsky out 4-6 weeks, Jackets recall goalie Forsberg 3
- Blue Jackets proud as Columbus shows it’s a hockey town 24
- From contract dispute to All-Star MVP, Johansen’s had quite the year 17
- Marc-Andre Fleury would like to remind the Columbus crowd that the Penguins beat the Blue Jackets in the playoffs 33
- Columnist: Flyers ‘orchestrated’ fight night versus Pens during meal at ‘a local steakhouse’ (130)
- L.A. Sorry? Kings waive Mike Richards (123)
- Flyers’ Rinaldo: ‘I changed the whole game, man’ (112)
- Video: Rinaldo tossed for boarding Letang (79)
- Report: Flyers’ Rinaldo waives right to an in-person hearing (61)